Real Madrid take slender lead, Chelsea hold Atletico

London, April 24 (IANS): Chelsea will take heart from a dogged performance at the Vicente Calederon where they held Atletico Madrid 0-0 in the first Champions League semi-final, while in the second Real Madrid will head to Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena with a slender 1-0 lead.

A solitary goal from Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema Wednesday night gave his side a slender 1-0 win at home in the Santiago Bernabeu over Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League second semi-final match.

Benzema was on hand to finish off a counter-attack which decided a fascinating game in which Bayern controlled the ball against a rival who were fast and counter-attacked dangerously.

Bayern had controlled 73 percent of possession in the first 45 minutes, but Madrid looked increasingly dangerous on the break as the half progressed and Cristiano Ronaldo had the first chance of the second half.

The German dominance of the ball continued, but Real Madrid were solid in defence and midfield and Ronaldo again tested Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer with 20 minutes remaining.

Gareth Bale, who began the game on the bench as the result of suffering a dose of flu, replaced Ronaldo with 18 minutes remaining, while there was bad news for Madrid when Pepe had to limp out of the game with what looked like a muscle injury.

The end of the game was a frantic affair as Iker Casillas produced a flying save to deny Mario Gotze, while Bale hit a shot into the side netting.

Bayern asked for a penalty after Thomas Muller went over in the Madrid area under pressure from Xabi Alonso, but referee Howard Webb was having none of it and the final result leaves everything to play for next week in Germany.

In the first semi-final Tuesday night in the Spanish capital, Chelsea produced a gritty performance to keep the home team at bay.

La Liga-leading Atletico dominated possession and scoring chances, but could not break Chelsea, even though injuries forced the Blues to play most of the match without starting goalkeeper Petr Cech and the last 17 minutes of regulation minus top defender and captain John Terry.

The Colchoneros, who boast the stingiest defence in both La Liga and the Champions League, were visibly uncomfortable playing against a rival whose approach is similar to their own.

The English club sent only one man forward in offence, former Atletico stalwart Fernando Torres, who received a cordial welcome from the fans at the Calderon, unlike Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, a hate figure for Colchoneros supporters from his tenure at Real Madrid.

Three players -- Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel of Chelsea and Atletico captain Gabi -- are suspended for the second leg at Stamford Bridge due to an accumulation of yellow cards.


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Title: Real Madrid take slender lead, Chelsea hold Atletico

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